01 Nov Biking Holland!
One of the things I love most about visiting the Netherlands is going on a bike ride. Biking Holland is such a pleasure. Just thinking about it, makes me smile. There are a lot of reasons why. Here are just a few.
You don’t have to look hard to see bikes in the Netherlands. They are everywhere. 99% of all Dutch people own a bike. In cities like Amsterdam and The Hague, 70% of all journeys are made by bike. Incredible! So if you want to understand the Dutch, you’ve just got to hop on and go for a ride.
The Dutch are comfortable on their bikes in a way that isn’t intrinsic for me. They begin biking young and learn the rules of the road. They are competent bikers. They don’t wear helmets. People Know How to Bike! Don’t believe me? Check out this crazy short video of bikers in Utrecht. It will give you a whole new appreciation for Biking Holland!
Because so many people bike, the country has the infrastructure for it. Because it has the infrastructure, more people bike. The Dutch really began their focus on biking in the 1970s with building more dedicated bike paths. These bike paths are smoothly paved, separated from car roads, and have their own signs and stop lights!
Getting around on a bike couldn’t be easier. When you come to a set of steps, there’s often a bike rail on the side. Just slide your bike tire in, hold onto the handle brake, and down you go. Modern train, bus, and tram stations have escalators that are flat and you can roll your bike right on down to the train. Going on a journey? Bring your bike with you!
The Dutch do not lack in ingenuity when it comes to biking. Small children “ride” bikes sitting in a wooden or metal bucket attached to the front of the bike. Want to walk on a treadmill while you are biking? No problem, check out the cool red bike in the upper right hand corner. It’s a Lopfit!
Bikes for Everyone
“Bikes” for entire kindergarten classes!
If a group of kindergartners need to go to the park or the zoo. You don’t have to bundle them into a school bus. Nope. You can go by various means. There are self-pedal school “buses” where each child has pedals. There are sit down conveyances that are open to the air and driven by a teacher. Cool or what!
So you put together the facts that there are a bazillion types of bikes, everyone bikes, there’s a great infrastructure and this: Holland is Flat. It’s a biker’s dream. You don’t have to sweat the hills or valleys. You don’t have to put on athletic gear. Pretty much, just get out there and pedal. So, yup, you don’t have to be in great shape to bike in Holland. It’s not an endurance race for the physically fit. You can just bike. Because you want to. Because you can.
All the Time
Dutch people bike all the time. A little drizzle or rain on the way? Not a problem. It’s a like the whole country has morphed into Dory and “Just Keep Swimming” translates “Just Keep Biking.” Some people bring out full rain gear. Others just bike on without it. Either way. Rain or shine. Dutch people bike. They bike to work and to the shops. They bike to school and to the dentist. They bike to buy flowers and bike and bike and bike. It’s a way of life. Healthy. Outdoors. Happy-making.
Too Much Fun
My sister-in-law and I were having so much fun biking Holland that we even invented a new Olympic Sport: Synchronized Biking. We rode up and down the path practicing. If the laughter coming from the man behind the tree was any indication, then we haven’t perfected the sport yet. Still, I’m hopeful. Tokyo 2020?
The Dutch take biking so seriously, that they even create art within their bike paths.
In the town of Eindhoven, artist Daan Roosegaarde creating a glowing bike path, from solar-powered LED lights, making his own version of Vincent Van Gogh’s beautiful painting, Starry Night. Here are an additional Ten Best Bike Paths in Holland. Bike by tulip fields or windmills. Bike in the morning light or evening dusk. But if you do, stop once in a while, get off your bike and enjoy Holland. It’s simply a lovely place to see.